Tag Archives: gifts

Don’t Miss It

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Don’t Miss It

Admittedly, Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love everything about it: family, love, food, friends, but more than that, I cherish the reason for the season: Jesus’ birth. For if He were not born, there would be no death and resurrection to save us from our sins, offering grace and pardon to live eternally with Him. Our hope is found in the birth of Jesus! We have reason to celebrate and to share the hope we have in Christ.

Somehow, some way, every year without fail it seems that the reason for our celebrating is left in the dust. Our focus turns to stuff and what we can buy to give, or to receive for ourselves. We are scurrying around to every child’s event at school, church, and the like not to mention the office parties and gatherings among friends. We find ourselves stressed out, broke, and even depressed. Then, there’s the sickness that naturally occurs as the weather cools down and germs begin to spread. We find ourselves sleeping less and going til we can’t go anymore.

I find it hard to believe that this is what Christmas was meant to be about. Why is it that we wait until December to show love for our friends and family? Why is it that we feel that gifts given somehow equate to how much we love someone? Why do we continually spend money we don’t have in fear of being perceived a grinch?

As I continue to age, I find myself tremendously scaling back. Cutting back on activities, some of which I’d rather enjoy partaking in; however, I’ve learned my limits. To me, Christmas is time invested with family and friends, quiet moments by the fireplace, sharing yummy simple food, listening to beautiful Christmas carols and hymns, finding peace amidst the chaos, simplified giving, and self-care. As much as I love sending and receiving Christmas cards, I find myself cutting back on the expense of them. We erroneously allow money and the giving of gifts to be the focus of our Christmas when we already have the best gift we could ever receive: Jesus.

When I allow my mind to wander back to Christmases past, what I have fond memories of is time spent with both sets of grandparents and extended family, traditions of baking family favorite treats (even the dreaded fruitcake!), Christmas Eve candlelight services at our church, luminaries throughout our neighborhood, finding and cutting our Christmas tree, homemade hot cocoa, roasting marshmallows and making s’mores, singing favorite Christmas songs, Christmas caroling throughout the neighborhood, unwrapping one gift on Christmas Eve, reading the Christmas story from our family Bible, opening treasured engraved ornaments from family friends, trading Christmas cards from friends and family near and far.

Pinterest and facebook didn’t exist in my treasured memories. We baked and created in the kitchen only to be compared to the recipe that had been passed down through the family. Selfies and instant posting of pictures on social media didn’t exist; we were busy living in the moment, savoring time with those we loved, enjoying being out of school and traveling to Grandma’s. Cellphones and texting weren’t a thing yet making our family time more special and less distracted. We were excited to see what gifts were under the tree and enjoyed hearing the back story of how and why each gift was chosen and purchased. Amazon didn’t exist making it exciting to actually go to the mall and wonder who you might run into while you were shopping.

It was a joyous and simple time. Even with all of today’s technology intended to make life easier and less complicated, yet distracting us like never before, we can find simplicity. We can savor the moments, find joy in simple handmade gifts and cards, and most importantly, focus our minds and thoughts on Jesus. Being present in the moment and enjoying life’s simple pleasures. Love isn’t about money spent on gifts; rather the heart that gives out of love.

Consider these thoughts as you and your family count down the days before Christmas. Don’t allow yourself to be caught up in the commercialism of the season or the comparison trap of gift giving to keep up with the Joneses; for there isn’t any love there. Demonstrate Christ’s love in a simple smile, handshake, hug, handwritten note, or even an anonymous gift given to someone in need. For here is where the joy and love of the season is found.

Wishing you and those you love a very Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

the struggle is real, folks!

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I’ve written previously about my son’s issue with the “big boy potty”. Well, the saga continues….

Pardon me while I vent just a moment. Can I just tell you how disgusted I am by the whole episode? Changing a baby’s diaper is one thing, no matter how bad the blowout might be. However, changing the underpants of a four and a half year old is wearing. me. out. in every way. Just last week, we had no less than 5 pair, if not more, underpants in a bucket outside to be rinsed out so they could make it to the washing machine. Needless to say, keeping up with the laundry is a part-time job.

Okay…stepping off my soapbox now. Be thankful that I “cleaned it up” for you as my emotions tend to run high during such episodes.

Just this past Sunday evening and Monday morning we had a huge party at my house celebrating “the dispatchment” placed in the potty. There were high fives, gifts, snuggles, clapping and hooray-ing!!! Lots of positive affirmation for a job well done. We were so happy and just knew this was the end of our dilemma. May I just tell you that by Tuesday morning, all successes were flushed down the potty. What, you ask? Yep, the potty-in-the-pants started up on Tuesday morning just prior to leaving the house for school. We were so disappointed. Well, accidents do happen, so grace was extended. But, hold the phone! It happened yet again Wednesday morning just as I was finishing my breakfast. Utterly disgusted, he was cleaned up and re-directed to do it in the potty next time.

Why am I sharing this? I heard recently from a behavior management class we’ve been taking since October, that this potty-in-the-pants habit is quite common for boys of this same age. I was shocked! I truly felt as if we were one-in-zillion with this problem. Granted, I’m well aware that our issues could be much, much worse BUT ya’ll it is so disgusting that I can hardly take it anymore.

We’ve read (& watched!) potty books & videos more times than I can count. We’ve rewarded with stickers, toys, candy, treats & the winner-take-all prize: Chuck E Cheese. You would think the boy would be running to the potty to collect on his winnings….WRONG! Both positive affirmation and negative/punishment have been doled out. Taking away toys, tv time, parties, & play dates have yielded nothing. We’ve read parenting book after parenting book on the strong-willed child with no change of behavior.

I would love to hear from you if you’re in a similar battle with your boy or girl. I’m certainly not above trying something new. Let me hear from¬† you!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

father knows best

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father knows best

While traveling to see family over the holiday, my husband reserved a rental vehicle as is our norm for driving such a long trip. We enjoy traveling in something much newer offering less mileage than either of our ’99 and ’05 models have to offer, as well as more space for a comfortable road trip.

We thoroughly enjoyed the minivan we had at our disposal for nearly 2 weeks. It took us 15 hours west of where we reside. It felt so luxurious as we took turns driving throughout our journey. The van boasted heated seats & steering wheel, contoured seats, automatic sliding doors, back-up camera and all the other bells and whistles a new vehicle offers. You can imagine how sad we were to say goodbye to our rental this evening. It had such a smooth ride with plenty of room for all our loot. Heck, it still had that new car smell that reminds you that you are, in fact, driving a new vehicle. To us, this ride was luxury. As we hopped back into our ’99 tired, smaller SUV, we tried not to feel jealous of whoever would be driving the van next. In our minds, we longed for the much newer vehicle over our ride.

It was about that time that God reminded me that He is our Provider and that His timing is perfect. Sure, we’d love to have a newer, bigger family vehicle BUT, we enjoy not having another monthly bill to pay since both our vehicles are paid for. Yes, our family vehicle is wracking up the miles but it serves us well. We rarely have to have it serviced. God knows what we need…and when we need it. We know what we think we need, or just want. Can I get an amen?!

We can easily be deceived to believe ‘if I just had that car, or that house, or that piece of furniture, or (fill in the blank), I’d be happy’. That, my friend, is a lie from the pit of hell. Admittedly, as a SAHM, sometimes it’s easier than not for me to fall into such a trap set by our enemy. I’ll hear that voice: “you deserve it” or “you’ve had a tough day” or “it’s just money” and if I’m not on my game by being in tune with the Lord, I buy into the lie, quite literally. The problem is, whenever I do indulge, it hasn’t brought me the happiness I’d hoped for. More often than not it has caused great guilt for spending money that I shouldn’t be spending. The truth is the grass isn’t greener on the other side. It just isn’t. We want so desperately to believe that it is but time after time, you and I both have witnessed situations where someone stepped out and found out the hard way.

Through it all, all the wrestling taking place in our minds, God knows best. You remember the popular TV show from way back when, “Father Knows Best“? Our heavenly Father really does know best and He wants to lavish good gifts upon His children just as a parent wants to lavish upon his child(ren). As a parent, I know that if I lavish too much upon my son, I will spoil him. To me, there’s nothing worse than a spoiled brat; someone who believes he’s entitled. We are a blessed people and God knows better than we do what we have need of. We only see what we think we need when most of the time it’s a want.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

Oftentimes, when I’m feeling like I’m in lack of something that I believe I need (more like a want that I rationalize to be a need), I take a step back and look at all that He has already richly bestowed upon me and my family. My goodness, we have a home, 2 paid for cars, jobs, health, a beautiful son, a happy marriage. Then I think back to a time prior when I wanted so desperately to be a wife and a mother, to have a home and I remember how God answered each of those prayers in His perfect timing, not mine. You see, I would’ve settled for far less than what He desired to bless me with. I’ve been known to remind my husband of this very thing when he falls into “the trap”. It doesn’t take long for us both to realize how truly blessed we are. I challenge you to do the same the next time you find yourself in “the trap”.¬† It really does put things into perspective!

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas is just around the corner!

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Christmas is just around the corner!

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Are you one of those who loves a big countdown to Christmas? You know, “only 10 days until Christmas!” Or, are you one of the many who love to go out in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping? Perhaps you are like me and rather despise the anxiety that can be brought upon us with all the marketing, countdowns, and crowds of people everywhere, fighting for the perfect gift at the perfect price.

Regardless of where you stand on the rush brought on by the holidays, one thing remains common to us all: the heart. If you’re reading this, you are living and breathing and your heart is beating. I can’t really take credit for the point I’m about to make because it isn’t original to me. A gal and I were chatting about whether or not we’d decorated our homes for Christmas. It was her goal to put her tree up that day. Since my family and I had just returned from a long car trip, my focus needed to be unpacking suitcases, doing laundry, unpacking our car & buying groceries, all the things that go with being out of town. We both agreed that the house has to be clean before we can decorate. This added some stress to our otherwise fun plans! She shared how her 5 year old loves to decorate the tree and help her put all the decor out around the house. What a lovely thought; I however, imagined doing my decorating while my son was at school.

Our conversation quickly turned to the heart. My friend simply said “if your heart isn’t in to the joy of setting out the decor and preparing your home for Christmas, it is being done with the wrong intent and motive“. This resonated with me in the season of life I’m in as I have debated whether or not to even put up a tree. Lest you think I’m the Grinch over here, let me assure you that Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. I used to look forward to getting all the decor out, unwrapping all the precious and memorable ornaments to flock my tree. I loved setting out my beautiful nativity scene, wrapping the garland around the banister, hanging our stockings and sitting back to enjoy the warm glow of the lit tree.

Where is my joy? It’s there. Down deep. I feel as if it’s yet another chore to add to my never-ending “to do” list. Sad, isn’t it? Remember, I told you I’m not the Grinch. This is where the heart comes in! Just as you would prepare your home for the Christmas holiday, so should you prepare your heart. I’ve been pondering what that means. I want to be “all in” and celebrate. What does this look like for me? I want to usher Christmas in by being in the moment. I want to put myself and my thoughts into that day so many ions ago when Christ Jesus came to earth as a babe, born of a virgin to bring joy and hope to a dying and sinful world. Jesus would live here with us as a human being before the plan was fulfilled in which Jesus would die a horrifying and tortuous death upon a cross, taking on our sin (yours and mine), yet 3 days later raise from the dead! It is during the Easter season that we celebrate the hope there is beyond the grave for those who believe and place their trust in Jesus Christ. Whew! What a humbling thought. What amazing love was displayed for you and me!

Slow down your busyness. Be intentional with your time. Take time for yourself to read the Christmas story in the book of Luke. Set out your nativity. Ponder what that day must have looked like on that day so long ago when Jesus was born. Listen to Christmas carols with meaning to help prepare your heart for the reason, the true reason, we celebrate Christmas. Quiet yourself before Him and thank Him for the gift of His Son. Share these truths with your children, as you pray for ordained moments. Help them to understand the season isn’t about Santa or presents, parties or candy. Give them a glimpse into your heart. Christ is alive and well and waiting for us to meet with Him, if we’ll give Him some time.

Merry Christmas!

gifts

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gifts

As a Mom, do you ever feel that you have spiritual gifts that are not being utilized? Gifts that you once enjoyed employing, but now are not? I know I do. As a matter of fact, I’ve struggled with it over my short time of being a Mommy. Not that I am not loving being a Mom, but I miss having something that is mine. Something that I do. Something I contribute. I know, as I’m writing this, it sounds as if I’m contradicting myself, as being a Momma should be fulfilling enough.

I recently heard someone speak on this subject and it so inspired me! As a songwriter and singer, this person shared that after becoming a Mom, she feared that she could possibly lose her ability to do what she once loved doing–songwriting. She feared she might even forget her skill after having not used it. I found myself relating to every word she shared. No, I’m not a songwriter or singer, but I do have God-given gifts, as do we all.

Important to remember: there is a time and season for every thing under the sun (read Ecclesiastes). Sometimes our roles in life change for a period of time. That doesn’t mean we will lose our ability to write or lead or sing or whatever. What is encouraging is that it is in these different seasons of life that actually give our gifts color and depth. Our talents are refined, even broadened.

We can ask God to give us opportunities to utilize our gifts in all seasons of our life. If we aim to honor Him with our God-given gifts (James 1:17), how much more will He provide opportunities for their use? Seeking Him and His wisdom might just surprise you. He may have something just for you, just for this season that will blow your socks off….and inspire someone else.